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CATHOLIC CHURCH

Hollande under fire after making Pope joke

French President Francois Hollande came under fire on Tuesday after cracking a joke about Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign because of his failing health.

Hollande under fire after making Pope joke

At a press conference with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, Hollande initially observed somberly that the Catholic church should be left in peace to organize Benoit's succession.

But he could not resist adding with a smirk: "We won't be putting up a candidate!"

The Socialist leader's irreverence at a time of great consternation for many Catholics was slammed as inappropriate by former interior minister Claude Gueant.

"Everyone knows that Francois Hollande is not very well disposed to religion in general and to the Catholic church in particular," Gueant told Canal + television.

"But to make a joke about such a dignified decision is not good at all. It is completely out of place."

Gueant also took a swipe at Hollande's minister for older people, Michele Delaunay, who tweeted under the hashtags #Age and #JobsforSeniors: "I have to admit that, rightly or wrongly, Benoit XVI failed to consult me before taking his decision." She later deleted the message.

Gueant commented: "They are joking about someone of such stature, it's really not very good at all."

Hollande, who was brought up by Catholic parents and attended a private Catholic school, has been widely described as an atheist. Jealously protective of his private life, he has only confirmed that he does not practise any religion while having respect for all faiths.

The president's domestic arrangements are certainly not compatible with Catholic teaching. Hollande lives with his glamorous girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiller, for whom he left the mother of his four children, whom he never married.

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CATHOLIC CHURCH

At least 3,000 paedophiles active in French church since 1950: report

Thousands of paedophiles have operated inside the French Catholic Church since 1950, the head of an independent commission investigating the scandal told AFP, days ahead of the release of its report.

French archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin leads his last mass,on June 28, 2020. Barbarin was released on appeal on January 30 for his silence on the sexual abuse of a priest, and resigned quickly afterwards.
French archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin leads his last mass,on June 28, 2020. Barbarin was released on appeal on January 30 for his silence on the sexual abuse of a priest, and resigned quickly afterwards. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

The commission’s research had uncovered between 2,900 and 3,200 paedophile priests or other members of the church, said Jean-Marc Sauve, adding that it was “a minimum estimate”.

The commission’s report is due to be released on Tuesday after two and a half years of research based on church, court and police archives, as well as interviews with witnesses.

The report, which Sauve said runs to 2,500 pages, will attempt to quantify both the number of offenders and the number of victims.

It will also look into “the mechanisms, notably institutional and cultural ones” within the Church which allowed paedophiles to remain, and will offer 45 proposals.

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The independent commission was set up in 2018 by the French Catholic Church in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in France and worldwide.

Its formation also came after Pope Francis passed a landmark measure obliging those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors.

Made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, its brief was to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by clerics dating back to the 1950s.

When it began its work it called for witness statements and set up a telephone hotline, then reported receiving thousands of messages in the months that followed.

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